Solomon Fund hosts second registration event
On Sunday, Sept. 10, the Solomon Fund, a non-profit organization that helps connect sports and rec. organizations with Latino families, held its second annual registration event. Diego Zegarra, the organization’s development and special projects manager, said the event “met and surpassed” expectations.
“We ran into a really good problem in that we had no more space for agencies because they were all there,” Zegarra said.
All told, 28 agencies filled St. Mary’s Catholic Church from 12:30-2:30 p.m., from well-known organizations like Basin Recreation to smaller businesses like High Country Fly Fishing. Zegarra said all the attending groups offered discounts of at least 50 percent, with some offering up to 90 percent off.
“We see a sweet spot in the 70 to 90 percent waived off tuition,” Zegarra said. “The families see the value, they are bought into the program and that’s where we see our highest rate of participation and attendance.”
The Solomon Fund, part of the Park City Community Foundation, chose its target demographic because it found the Latino community was underrepresented in Park City’s sports and outdoor activities. The goal is to bring Latino participation in sports and recreation up to 21 percent for existing programs in town – proportional to town’s Latino population.
Currently, Zegarra said, participation numbers hover between 0 and 19 percent depending on the program, with organizations that aggressively seek inclusion leading the pack.
Zegarra said part of the problem is communication.
“Not knowing how to navigate the system, so to speak,” he said.
This applies to both the language and locations programs are marketed in.
Then, there’s transportation. Even when they can afford participation costs, some families have trouble getting their kids to programs.
“If you are working two jobs, it’s hard to get your kids to the field,” Zegarra said.
The Solomon Fund also addresses cost.
“If you can’t afford the skis, gloves, poles, goggles, helmet and pass, it’s unlikely your kid will be skiing this winter, so we are being intentional about working with agencies that offer winter activities,” Zegarra said.
But while this season’s ski and snowboard participation levels won’t become clear until the slopes open, some sports saw bumps in participation right away.
For example, staff from the Park City Ice Arena contacted the Solomon Fund with news that Latino kids had shown up in force to skate the day after the registration event.
The Solomon Fund’s event was good timing. The Ice Arena was just starting classes, so the 32 kids who signed up for their ice skating classes were able to attend the next day or the day after, said Matt Genther, the Ice Arena’s program coordinator.
“It was pretty cool; everybody was super stoked to be on the ice,” Genther said. “With beginner classes, usually we have some tears and some hesitation.”
But this time was different.
“It seemed like everybody was so excited,” Genther said. One instructor told him she’d “never seen such energy on the ice.”
Genther said the Arena, which offered discounted programming to those who qualify for the free and reduced lunch campaign, heard about the Solomon Fund through the PC MARC, and decided to attend last Sunday’s event. Representatives of the Solomon Fund helped translate for families and the Ice Arena, easing the enrollment process.
In a video posted to the Solomon Fund’s Facebook page, a couple of girls, one wearing a helmet with a pink Mohawk poking from its crown, took wobbly strides around the ice rink, which was strewn with mittens that the girls had thrown playfully at each other.
Zegarra said it was a great example of what the Solomon Fund hopes to achieve.
“As the Solomon Fund gets more popular, I believe we will get more families (at registration events),” he said. “But getting 140 plus (kids registered), we’re doing well. All things considered, it feels like we did a phenomenal job.”
Later estimates put the number of athletes registered “in the high 100s,” Zegarra said, with over 200 unique registrations in different sports.
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